Meet Our Judges: Q&A with Cadence Weapon

We are so lucky to have some of our favourite Canadian artists on this year’s judging panel, including Edmonton’s own Cadence Weapon. Check out our interview below for some of his insights into the music business, songwriting, and Canada’s rap scene. And look out for his new, self-titled album to drop in November! 

What do you appreciate about the Canadian music community? What about Edmonton’s music community specifically?

I’ve always appreciated how the Canadian music scene is so tight-knit, despite the country being so physically large. People are friendly and willing to help each other out when they’re on tour or they need help with a project. In Edmonton, I’ve always found the people there have a real independent spirit. People aren’t as swayed by trends that sweep up the rest of the world. I think that’s why so much unique music is made by people from there.

How has the Canadian rap scene changed and evolved over the past ten years?

There was a bigger underground rap scene ten years ago, similar to what was happening in Minneapolis and New York. That’s not happening as much. Toronto is arguably the hottest place on earth when it comes rap, especially with regards to production. That’s not something most people would’ve predicted ten years ago. Now you don’t really have to explain that you rap and you’re from Canada. It’s not a weird thing anymore. I think you’re starting to see the early days of a working infrastructure for the rap, R&B and dancehall industry in Canada where there wasn’t one before. I’m hoping all the chart success for Canadian rap and R&B artists in the States can lead to more respect from the gatekeepers of radio in our country.

Can you tell us a bit about what inspires you to write and your writing process?

I get ideas for songs in fragments, usually random melodies and flow ideas that I’ll record in my Voice Memos or lyrics that I’ll write down in my phone. I’m inspired by personal experiences and travel. I draw a lot from interacting with others or thinking about human nature. Walking around a city, I often find words start to springing to mind.

From a marketing perspective, how important is an online presence versus touring and seeing your fans face-to-face?

I’ve benefited from both ways of building a following. A strong online presence can help you become well-known around the world exponentially fast, especially in places that you can’t easily physically access. But having a robust tour schedule can make an impact in person that creates a solid foundation that you can build on for years. It’s best to have a balance of both.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to pursue a career in music?

Just spend as much time as possible creating a unique musical identity. That can only come from experience. Just keep making songs and trying out ideas until you’ve found your voice. Innovation isn’t really something you can teach but it is something that you can discover with enough practice.

Who have you been listening to lately? Any Canadian artists?

These days I’ve been listening to Frank Ocean, Kelly Lee Owens, Tee Grizzley, Youngboy Never Broke Again, 24hrs and the label Swing Ting. As for Canadian artists, I’ve been listening to Ramriddlz, Jacques Greene, Forever, Blue Hawaii, Cam Maclean and PARTYNEXTDOOR.

Can you tell us a bit about your forthcoming album?

It’s my most collaborative album ever. It’s all outside production, no beats made by me for the first time in my career. I spent more time focusing on lyrics and song structure. Several of the songs are stories. When I was first making music when I was younger, I wanted to make the freakiest, craziest thing I could and I didn’t care whether or not anyone listened to it or understood it. With this album I’ve been writing songs with audiences and specific listening environments in mind and it’s resulted in some very fun music.